The MWCC assures us that everything is equally valued in its quadruple-bottom-line ethos, that is: “balancing our focus between four core values: Planet (environmental care), People (social inclusion), Culture (cultural vitality) and Profits (economic return)".
These four read more like objectives than values, but what measurement balanced them? The methodology by which the perfect and superb result is achieved is not described. No evidence or proof, no calculations or figures nor any analysis of how the balance was struck is presented. The quadruple bottom-line is merely a slogan beside a picture.
MWCC quadruple bottom line. The MWCC has a VISION and a MISSION. The say the same thing. Perhaps that is why both concepts are illustrated with one infographic—which explains nothing.
The Triangle of Extraction that opponents of the cable car see.
Opponents also see the bottom-line, but it is not a circle, they see a triangular relationship between Benefits, Costs and Profits.
Benefits: Locals will get some benefit from the facilities, but the benefits flow, predominantly, to tourists. The experience is made for tourists. Social inclusion, environmental impact and cultural vitality hardly matter.
Costs Users pay the cost of the ticket, the proponent has costs too, but the costs are borne, predominantly, by the Hobart community. The environmental degradation and social exclusivity, the cultural wound, the collateral reputational damage and cannibalisation of existing businesses would hit the Hobart economy hardest.
Profits Some businesses will profit from building or servicing the project, it will provide its employees some income, but the profits flow predominantly to the company shareholders, and the scheme's proponent (Riser + Gain) is the major shareholder.
At the launch of its Development Application in June 2019 (and in subsequent media appearances) the chair of the MWCC Chris Oldfield suggested that the cable car could not please everybody—but that was only due to “philosophical differences”—as is if philosophy was some abstract academic area of no consequence. He did not mention values.
What is the MWCC’s philosophy and does it have “Values”? Yes. Its philosophy is not staled but it can be derived from its project values, which its website states are: “environmental care, social inclusion, cultural vitality and profit”. (In the alternative arrangement of the MWCC Full Details brochure the Values are reduced from four to three: Environmental Stewardship, Social Responsibility and Economic Development. Culture disappeared.) The MWCC also claims its intention is to “enhance the appreciation, enjoyment and preservation of intrinsic values inherent at the pinnacle and foothills [of the mountain].” What the MWCC sees as the intrinsic values of the mountain it does not care to state. The sentence does not even make sense. No one can ‘enhance’ the preservation of anything; either you preserve a thing or not. You can ‘appreciate and enjoy’ intrinsic values—and the concept of intrinsic value is noted in the Wellington Park’s management plan, but the application of the word ‘intrinsic’ by the MWCC is hashed.
Fortunately, it does not matter that the MWCC is confused. The managers of Wellington Park are clear. Values are fundamental to Wellington Park, indeed they govern the entire Wellington Park Management Plan. Derived from major reports, community surveys and interviews with experts, the elucidation of the Park’s values take up Chapter Two of the Plan. The word value occurs over 600 times in the Plan—virtually on every second page, starting from page one. By contrast, the term ‘cable car’ first appears on page 157 and occurs on only seven subsequent pages.
The mountain’s 12 inherent values are loosely categorised as: Use Values, Natural Values and Cultural Values. The Use Values are 1. Recreation 2. Tourism and 3. Drinking Water. The Natural Values are 4. Flora Diversity 5. Fauna Diversity 6. Geo-diversity and 7. Wilderness and Remoteness. The Cultural Values are 8. Beauty 9. Landscape 10. Sense of Place and 11. Knowledge (Research and Education). As well as these values, the Park has an additional ‘Quality’: 12. Aboriginal and European History and Culture. The Key Desired Outcomes of the Plan that follow are all required “to protect these values”.
Little wonder that neither these values nor the Key Desired Outcomes are ever referenced by the MWCC. The omission was obvious to the prominent cable car critic Ben Jones who argued that it was incumbent upon the MWCC to demonstrate that its proposal would not have negative impacts on the mountain’s values.
Left to itself, the Park needs little management, its Values are self-protecting and renewing. It is “human activity and impacts” which require management because they threaten the park’s values. How would a cableway or Pinnacle Centre protect the values? What positive impact would it have? How would these developments (in the MWCCs words) “enhance preservation”? The obvious answer is that the development threatens, to a smaller or greater extent, all of the Park’s values—even its tourism value.
It is vital to recognise that while the management plan recognises touristic pleasure as a value, it is not of equal value to the other values. The Plan (implementing the Wellington Park Act) makes tourism subservient to the other values and tourist development is permitted only in so far as it is “consistent with the protection of the natural, cultural, aesthetic and recreational values of the Park” (page 122).
The MWCC’s confused pontification sits alongside the statement of its true mission which it says is: “To grow Tasmania’s overall tourism appeal by developing a … visitor experience that becomes and remains the Number One most recommended tourism destination in Tasmania.” Contrast this with the official Park Vision for Wellington Park (page 24) to be “a special place, accessible and enjoyed by all for its prominent landscape, natural and cultural diversity, and community value.”
The contrast between what is legal and what is suggested could hardly be clearer. Would a cableway or a restaurant make the mountain a more special place? Would building them restore or obliterate landscape? What would the Access Road protect? Would seeing these developments enhance or degrade the appreciation of the Park’s natural values? Would the development increase or reduce remoteness and wildness? Is its cultural impact enriching or demeaning? Would they increase the value of the community asset or expropriate a private profit from it?
This MWCC’s values are self-contradictory, they are unmistakably incompatible with the Park’s values, and the development they seek to justify will be found to be illegal.
MWCC chair Chris Oldfield’s dismissal of philosophy might have sought to avoid an examination of his company’s philosophy, but its philosophy can be derived from its values. Theirs is a development mentality, a Wise Use theory, an anthropocentric philosophy. It stands in stark contrast to the ecocentric philosophy that guides the Wellington Park’s management.